Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Doting dolphins of Kalpitiya

The long weekends and the holiday season are drawing large crowds to Kalpitiya to watch the antics of the diving dolphins.

It seems that the dolphins sensing they are the centre of attraction of thousands of spectators are performing their incredible and amazing acts of rapid dives and graceful movement through the water to thrill the visitors.
The dolphin season usually ends by the middle of May with the advent of strong winds in the North-Western regions. It begins again in September. Wildlife Department officials say the income earned through the sale of admission tickets has doubled. Assistant wild life range officer N.C. Dissanayake said the department has three offices at Illanthadiya, Kandakkuliya and Kudawa in Kalpitiya where tickets are sold for viewing Dolphins. Dolphins and Whales are considered as endangered species of fish and protected under the second schedule of the Flora and Fauna Act and regulations are in place for their safety.

As such no vessels are allowed any closer than 50 meters of the dolphins and no closer than 100 meters of the whales. The visitors are also prohibited from feeding these fish.

Tourists are charged US$8 while for locals its Rs.20 each.
Illanthadiya Tourist Boat Owners Association Vice President Sanjeewa Fernando who is also an active member of the dolphin viewing centre confirmed that the boats used for the transportation of spectators are very safe and only six people are allowed on a boat. Every person travelling in these boats are provided with a safety jacket and owners of each boat are issued with a certificate of training by the Oceanography University.

More than one thousand families depend on the Dolphins and Whales for their livelihood and the presence of Dolphins and Whales is an asset to the ocean and therefore it is of paramount importance to protect them.